ISLAMABAD: As the joint investigation team (JIT) probing money laundering allegations against the Sharif family began the last round of interrogations, it examined the prime minister’s cousin Tariq Shafi on Sunday.
Mr Shafi told reporters after the hearing that he was questioned about the Gulf Steel Mills but he did not submit “any documents to the JIT today”.
His second appearance before the JIT lasted almost three hours and, according to him, the investigators’ behaviour towards him was ‘pleasant’.
“They asked how and when the Gulf Steel Mills was founded and sold. I answered whatever they asked me,” he said.
Mr Shafi’s first appearance before the JIT on May 15 was not smooth as he filed a complaint with its chief Wajid Zia about alleged ‘misbehaviour’ of Amir Aziz of the State Bank of Pakistan and Bilal Rasool of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan.
The JIT is scheduled to submit its final report to the Supreme Court on July 10.
The prime minister’s children Hassan Nawaz, Hussain Nawaz and Maryam Nawaz are scheduled to appear before it on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively.
Sharif’s cousin says no documents submitted
It will be Mr Hassan’s third and Mr Hussain’s sixth appearance before the JIT.
According to some TV reports on Sunday night, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar will also appear before the JIT on Monday.
So far, the JIT has recorded the statements of six members of the family — the prime minister, his younger brother Shahbaz Sharif, two sons, son-in-law retired Capt Mohammad Safdar and cousin Mr Shafi.
The PML-N leaders had claimed that Mr Shafi during his first appearance was forced by some JIT members to disown two affidavits he had submitted before the Supreme Court in the Panama Papers case. The affidavits had been submitted to show the money trail of the property in London owned by the prime minister’s family.
Through an affidavit, which was part of a concise statement submitted by the prime minister’s elder son Hussain Nawaz in the case, Mr Shafi claimed that he had deposited 12 million dirhams in cash with Qatar’s ruling family on the directives of the premier’s father Mian Sharif. The amount was obtained through the sale of the Gulf Steel Mills in Dubai in 1980.
Mr Shafi had claimed that Mian Sharif had made him a stakeholder in the mills in 1974. He was 19 when he was made a partner in the business.
The 12m dirhams investment was later utilised to purchase four apartments in London, he said.
The Sharif family, in its statements before the Supreme Court, has mentioned Mr Shafi as the legal owner in all the official documents, business transactions and agreements since the establishment of the Gulf Steel Mills in the 1970s.
Mr Shafi arrived at the Federal Judicial Academy (FJA), the temporary secretariat for the JIT, in a vehicle driven by Minister of State for Water and Power Abid Sher Ali.
Talking to reporters outside the FJA, Mr Ali claimed that Prime Minister Sharif was being punished for pursuing a progressive agenda for the country’s people.
He said that no corruption case was pending against the prime minister and the JIT was only investigating the private business of the Sharif family.
The minister also criticised the ruling PML-N’s political opponents, saying that after failing to win the people’s mandate they were left with no other option but to hatch conspiracies.
Published in Dawn, July 3rd, 2017